Motorists will be paying higher charges in Melton town centre car parks from April but they will no longer have to pay more to park on Tuesdays.
This was all decided by Melton Council cabinet members at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), when a decision was also taken to introduce cashless payments in council car parks.
The new fees will see drivers pay an extra pound for long stay car parks in Scalford Road, Burton Street and Mill Street - an increase of 66 per cent.
If you park all day in these car parks it is a much smaller increase, from £3.50 to the new rate of £4.50.
Parking for an hour in the town’s short stay council car parks, in Wilton Road, St Mary’s way, Chapel Street and the Burton Street Annexe, will cost 50 per cent extra from April - a rise of 40p to £1.20.
A two-hour stay increases from £1.60 to £2.30, three hours from £2.60 to £3.40 and four hours goes up by a third from £3 to £4.
If you park your car on a Tuesday, however, you will generally pay less than you do now.
Up to an hour in short stay car parks will cost £1.20 and £2.30 for two hours, reductions of 20p in each case.
In long stay car parks, motorists will be charged 50p less for a stay of up to three hours but they have to pay 50p extra to park all day with the new rate of £4.50.
Parking season tickets in council car parks will also rise with month-long passes costing £50 (currently it is £40), six months will be £250 (currently £220) and an annual permit will go up from £390 to £450.
The council say the parking fee increases are the first they have introduced for four years.
A consultation exercise was carried out with residents before arriving at the new pricing structure, when 75 per cent of respondents were against retaining the premium parking fees for Tuesday market days.
The council’s deputy leader, Councillor Leigh Higgins, said: “We have managed to keep car parking charges unchanged for the past four years, however we do need to ensure the income is sufficient which is why a review has taken place.
“The premium rate for a Tuesday is unpopular with our residents and 75 per cent of those who responded to our consultation wanted it to go so we are proposing to remove it and make the charges the same across the week.
“Feedback also indicated that residents valued the free parking spaces at St Mary’s carpark and keeping it free to park in the evening and Sundays which will remain unchanged.
“In addition we are looking to introduce a cashless payment option to compliment the current cash payment machines in order to give users more options through which to pay and will be promoting the purchase of season tickets which offer a saving for regular users.”
Cashless payments - via an app or by calling a telephone number - will be trialled for a year at town car parks, allowing drivers to pay by debit card rather than having to find coins to pay.
A report which went before yesterday’s cabinet meeting, statess: “Introduction of cashless parking payments are an increasingly desirable attribute during the mobile and digital age.
“With the consultation a significant majority expressed their views that it would be a welcome function within the borough.
“As well as being convenient, cashless payments will reduce the risk of receiving a Penalty Charge Notice as customers can receive a reminder text before their ticket expires.”
Motorcyclists who park in car spaces in car parks in Wilton Road, Chapel Street and St Mary’s when designated motorcycle parking bays are full will be charged from April for doing so.
The council predicts that the introduction of increased car parking charges will generate an additional £150,000 a year in income but it is understood that the authority is not keen on making any further increases next year,
The cabinet report further states: “Some concerns have been raised by residents identifying that this increase in prices could push car park users to use the residential areas where car parking is free.
“This will be monitored over the course of the year after the fees have been introduced and any issues raised to members for consideration.”
It adds: “Significant monitoring of town centre vitality takes place on a monthly basis and any unexpected changes which could be due to introduction of car park increases will be raised to senior officers and members for consideration.”
The changes to car parking are part of the council’s wider corporate strategy which will see investment in tackling issues like anti-social behaviour and environmental crime and securing the infrastructure, jobs and housing Melton needs to support prosperity for local communities.
The authority has also allocated funding to support town centre improvements and to work with Melton in Bloom to secure the Gold award, as well as to work with the Local Enterprise Partnership on establishing a Food Enterprise Centre within Melton.
A small allocation of the income is being ring-fenced to support the council’s response to the ‘climate emergency’ declaration.